A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo by Luise Uznaski

Photo by Luise Uznaski

“Alex Brown represents a very bright light, glowing in the midst of those who are yet finding their way towards his level of excellence,” remarks the bassist Cecil McBee. “His discipline precedes a high level of artistry that rarely is found at his young age.”

The young pianist’s international career began in 2007, when the legendary Cuban reedist Paquito D’Rivera first heard him perform in Washington, D.C. After a month-long silence following the concert, Alex received a call from D’Rivera, who told him that he “sounded pretty good…even on that plastic piano!” In the last few years, Alex has toured the world with D’Rivera, and shared a 2010 GRAMMY nomination for his contributions to D’Rivera’s album, Jazz-Clazz (Termidor). Alex’s sideman résumé also includes performances with Miguel Zenón, as well as Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

In addition to growing notoriety in jazz circles, Alex is also building a reputation as a classical musician: he has recorded and performed with the Imani Winds, as well as with the clarinetist Sabine Meyer, and has joined major orchestras in concert in the United States, Mexico, Chile, and Spain. He recently finished his first commission for orchestra.

Amidst these other obligations, Alex also performs regularly his own quintet. The group made a memorable debut at The Gallery in September of 2011 with D’Rivera as a special guest, and returned last March with a lineup featuring the saxophonist and Jazz Gallery veteran Yosvany Terry. On Thursday, we will welcome Alex and his quintet back to our stage. This iteration of the band includes the trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, the percussionist Paulo Stagnaro, the drummer Eric Doob, and Alex’s brother, the bassist Zach Brown. This concert will be Alex’s third as a part of our Debut Series, which enables us not only to present new artists, but also to continue to cultivate their talents through return performances.

Watch Alex’s quartet performing “Lamentos” live at the Telluride Jazz Celebration.

Photo via

Photo via

Hank Shteamer of Time Out New York summarizes the music of Pedro Giraduo: “Sometimes tender, sometimes brash and always arranged for maximum emotional punch.”

Born and raised in Córdoba, Argentina, the bassist has worked with the likes of Paquito D’RiveraBranford MarsalisKenny GarrettMiguel Zenón, and many others. Also a first call artist on the tango scene, Pedro has also lent his talents to Pablo ZieglerHector Del Curto’s “Eternal Tango,” Fernando Otero’s “X-Tango,” and Daniel Binelli’s “Tango Metropolis.” He is also the principal bassist of the Hudson Symphony Orchestra and the Música de Cámara String Ensemble.

Pedro leads one of New York’s ace big bands, the Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra, which has received numerous accolades including a four-star review from DownBeat for their last recording, Córdoba. Writing about the album in Step Tempest, Richard B. Kamins proclaims, “The music, bright, emotionally satisfying and mature, is filled with exciting solos, thoughtful melodies and fine harmonies.  2011 is proving to be another banner year for large ensemble recordings and Pedro Giraudo’s CD is among the best.” In 2011, The Latin Jazz Corner recognized Pedro with four “Best of 2011” awards, including Latin Jazz Large Ensemble Album Of The Year, Latin Jazz Boundary Breaking Album Of The Year, South American Jazz Album Of The Year, and Latin Jazz Composition Of The Year. In addition to his own group, Pedro has conducted both the WDR Big Band and the Cologne Contemporary Jazz Orchestra.

We commissioned Pedro to write a large ensemble work in 2008, and his group has appeared at The Gallery numerous times in the past. We welcome him back this weekend for a two-night run with his EXPANSIONS Jazz Orchestra, a group which also graced our stage last fall.

Watch the first of three videos of that performance, and also check out a more hi-fi video of the group performing “Duende del Mate,” courtesy of WBGO.

Photo by Peter Gannushkin

The New York Times praises Darius Jones’ “proud, rafters raising tone on alto saxophone,” and characterizes his style as an improviser as “fearless but disciplined.” JazzTimes concurs: “A head full of ideas and a heart full of talent. He never wastes a note or a breath.”

A native of Richmond, VA, Darius moved to New York in 2005. Since arriving here, he’s established collaborations with the pianist Matthew Shipp and the collective Little Women, and has been spotted on bandstands with Gerald Cleaver, Oliver Lake, William Parker, Andrew Cyrille, and countless others. The saxophonist signed with AUM Fidelity in 2009, and has released an autobiographical trilogy of critically-lauded albums on the label which he dubs “the Man’ish Boy Epic.”

The latest release, Book of Mæ’bul (Another Kind of Sunrise), in Darius’ words, is “an attempt at creating a totem to represent Jones’ spiritual pursuit” of “Love and Beauty.” On Thursday, we are pleased to welcome Darius’ Mæ’bul Quartet to our stage for the inaugural performance at our new space. In a blog entry on this group’s performance at the 2012 Vision Festival, Time Out New York‘s Hank Shteamer writes:

The performance centered on a series of heart-rending ballads. Jones sounded as precise and openhearted as I’ve ever heard him. Every time I go see him, I’m struck by the care and gravity he puts into each phrase; even if the passage is a delicate one, he gears up, bears down, applies enormous psychic pressure. The notes have a vocal cry—smooth, yet with rasp always threatening to creep in around the edges, like peppered honey—but they’re sculpted and purposeful. He’s entered a new phase of maturity with this project. Its emotional spectrum is total.

On the subject of the group’s forthcoming appearance at The Gallery, Darius adds:

Thurs. Jan. 17th is the opening of the new Jazz Gallery. It is their first performance in the new space. It is also my first performance there as a leader. The gallery has been supporting and doing amazing work for the jazz community for years. So come out and see the new space. More important support them through this transition. Also if you just want to come and hear Mæ’bul that is a good reason to show up too. Muah!

We hope to see you at the first performance at our new home. Don’t take our word for it; The New York Times has selected this concert as a Critics’ Pick:

★ Darius Jones MAE’bul Quartet (Thursday) With “Book of Mae’bul (Another Kind of Sunrise)” (Aum Fidelity), the alto saxophonist Darius Jones lobs another depth charge into the post-bop swimming pool, backed by a rhythm section featuring the pianist Matt Mitchell, who rejoins him here. (Also on deck: the bassist Sean Conly and the drummer Chad Taylor.) This show will officially break in a new space for the Jazz Gallery, an important hub that lost its old lease at the turn of the year.